Russia has warned that the UK's plan to supply Ukraine with tanks and other heavy weaponry will only escalate the war and generate more casualties among civilians.
In a statement on Sunday, the Russian embassy in the UK warned that "bringing tanks to the conflict zone, far from drawing the hostilities to a close, will only serve to intensify combat operations, generating more casualties, including among the civilian population."
The warning came after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak guaranteed to supply Ukraine with a squadron of Challenger 2 tanks and additional artillery systems, with the first units of armored vehicles to be delivered immediately.
The tanks are expected to arrive in Ukraine in the coming weeks, a statement from Sunak's Downing Street office said later Saturday, adding that the UK will also begin training the Ukrainian Armed Forces to use the tanks and guns in the coming days.
The move makes the UK the first Western power to supply the Ukrainians with tanks.
The Challenger 2, designed and built by the British company, Vickers Defense Systems, is a battle tank that has been in service with the UK army since 1994. The tank has previously been deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Iraq.
The UK's new decision also draw another swift reaction from Russia, when it sanctioned 36 top British politicians, including Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, over London's "continued anti-Russian activities".
Among those added to Moscow's blacklist are Chief of the General Staff Patrick Sanders, Secretary of State for Levelling Up and "Cabinet members, representatives of security agencies and journalists," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement on Saturday.
Despite several warnings from Russia that the arms and warfare equipment support from the West to Ukraine has been the prime reason the Ukraine conflict is still stretching on, the west has kept on supplying it with billions of dollars of equipment for countering Russia on the battlefield, thus extending the war to an undefined period.